Democrats set sights on healthcare technology legislation in 2009

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
A new Democratic initiative to spur the adoption of healthcare information technology will be a top priority of the next Congress, said a top health policy adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this week.

Wendell Primus said Pelosi would seek to pass a healthcare information technology bill in the early part of 2009. One version of such legislation, introduced earlier this year by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), contains penalties for providers who do not adopt the technology quickly. Primus says Pelosi will support the adoption of healthcare IT measures with or without such penalties. Primus spoke to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society meeting on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association is reporting that many physicians aren't yet geared up to make the IT transition. A 2007 survey by SureScripts shows only 6% of all physicians are set up for e-prescribing, and there are many barriers preventing physicians from taking up the practice. One such concern is the Drug Enforcement Agency's ban on e-prescribing controlled substances, which forces physicians to maintain two separate prescribing practices, according to AMNews.